Last and First Tournaments: The West of Scotland Championship 2002 and the Spring Weekend 2003

5-6 October 2002 and 26-27 April 2003, Glasgow

The last SCA tournament of the 2002 season was held in early October at Kelvingrove.  I promised to write a report, and began it, but inspiration deserted me after the first few stanzas and it remained unfinished.  Six months later the Bulletin Editor called in the debt with interest; so here is a combined report on the last and first SCA tournaments of 2002 and 2003.

I. The Lay of the Last Peg-Point (or The Last Peg-Point of Lay)
being an Account of the West of Scotland Championship
in the Year Two Thousand and Two

Players: Geoff Caldwell, Brian Durward, Tony Foster, Robert Lay, Fergus McInnes, Malcolm Smith, Jim Taggart, Alan Wilson

Upon the sward of Kelvingrove
Through two full days eight players strove
(Except that one of them was late
And — O how hard the poet’s fate
When he would sing of battle splendid —
Three left before the contest ended!)

For fair renown, for glory bright,
For index points, and for the right
To hold until another year
A trophy wrought of crystal clear.

Robert, the Bandit of the West,
With four-ball breaks his foes oppressed,
And Geoff and Tony stood transfixed
As each of them he twenty-sixed —
Against Jim likewise going round
With bisques still standing in the ground.

Then Brian rose with deadly stroke!
At last the bandit’s onslaught broke!
After two peels his bisques were gone
And Brian strode onto the lawn
And played an all-round break indeed
To win +2 and take the lead.

As evening fell upon the park
Fergus and Alan played till dark.
The day was well and truly over,
When Fergus placed his clip on rover;
In deepening gloom the players ceased,
Pegged down their game, and headed east.

(Actually they went into the pub, and headed east a little later in the evening.)

Next day the fight they did renew
In dazzling sun on sparkling dew

… and there the MS breaks off.  But, had it been completed, it would have told how Alan reversed the overnight advantage in that pegged-down game to win it +7; how Robert, his handicap reduced to 18 after the first day, had further victories over Fergus and Alan (+26 and +22, but using all his residual bisques); and how in his last game, against Geoff, he pegged out one ball, a tactic that had been his downfall in an Interclub League match a few weeks earlier, but scored the last peg-point of Lay with his remaining ball in his next turn to clinch the game and the tournament.

II. Springing into Action

Five of the same players were back at Kelvingrove at the end of April for the Spring Weekend.  Geoff, Tony and Malcolm were not there this time, but some others with a wide range of handicaps replaced them: last year’s winner John Clark, Campbell Morrison, Duncan Reeves, John Surgenor and Sheila Tibbels. Robert again took the lead in the first three rounds, winning +24, +16 and +26, with bisques to spare in the first and third games; and again he achieved a mid-tournament handicap reduction, this time to 16.  Again, too, it was Brian (his second opponent) who did best against him on the first day.  And again Alan was involved in a game that went on after most of the players had left — on this occasion against John Surgenor, Alan winning +25 some time after 6.30pm.

Sunday morning saw Robert’s only loss so far, to Alan, who thus took a narrow lead, having lost only one game on Saturday.  Alan then had another +25 against Campbell, but slipped back with his second -2 defeat of the tournament, inflicted by Jim after a three-ball endgame.  As the 6pm cut-off approached, Robert and John Surgenor, each beaten only by Alan, were in play, with Robert ahead but most of his bisques gone.  Alan mounted a last-ditch defence by beginning a game against Fergus at 5.20pm, which had the potential to restore his lead if Robert and John didn’t finish their game; but despite playing at a running pace he only managed to score 16 points (to Fergus’s 4) before time ran out.  Robert and John also failed to finish, leaving a very marginal overall result: Robert had a rating of 111, and John and Jim were tied on 112.  A playoff was impossible because Jim had already departed; but the tie was resolved on numbers of games won and lost, and the Spring Weekend tankard was presented to John Surgenor — who had won four games and lost only one.

As tends to happen at Kelvingrove (see the Spring Weekend 1998 report in the SCA Bulletin), we had some visitors in the course of the weekend.  The man who wanted his photograph taken with mallet in hand caused only minor distraction, and the two local residents who were interested in taking up croquet were positively welcome.  Less welcome were the boys who had been playing football on the bowling greens across the road and staged a brief invasion of the courts during the last games on Sunday; fortunately they didn’t disturb any of the balls, but their football boots can’t have done the turf any good.

Some of the players were trying out new digital cameras during the tournament.   You can see a few of the results below.

Fergus McInnes


Spring Weekend photographs taken by Fergus McInnes, John Surgenor and Alan Wilson:

Duncan Reeves plays a half-roll.  (From the blur on the green ball in this 1/320s exposure you can try, if such things interest you, to estimate how fast it was travelling away and how long the mallet must have remained in contact with the brown.)

Robert Lay in action - now slightly less of a bandit at his new handicap of 16.

Concentration: Alan Wilson lines up his peg-out.

The Champ!  John Surgenor receives the trophy from manager Fergus McInnes.